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  • Young and older man fishing

    Taxes and transfers

    Relationships are all about give and take, and so is the one between the government and the people. In childhood, people are on the receiving end of government services such as school and daycare. When they reach working age, they have to start giving back by paying taxes. In old age, the relationship flips again, and the government pays their pensions.

    How exactly this give-and-take evolves over the life course depends on where people live and what kind of education they have. There are also differences between men and women.

    Researchers at the German Economic Institute (IW) in Cologne have developed an interactive graphic based on data from the study Living in Germany that shows what these relationships look like in detail.

    Further information

    Frankfurter Allgemeine: Wer den Staat finanziert und wer profitiert

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Federico Giampieri on Unsplash

  • young adult writes something on a blackboard

    Learning German

    Refugees face numerous challenges starting over in a new place. Many had to flee their homes in a hurry, so they arrived in Germany without a job or housing, and also without knowing the language. “Many refugees start out living in collective accommodations where they have little contact with German speakers. In the beginning, they don’t have many opportunities to learn the language,” says sociologist Cornelia Kristen, who is conducting research on language learning among refugees based on data from Living in Germany.

    She says that compared to other new immigrants, more refugees enroll in language classes, with almost three-quarters taking a German class. And the classes pay off. Despite starting off knowing less German than other immigrants, refugees improve rapidly in their first year and after about four years, they speak German just as well as other immigrants. These and other findings from the study by Cornelia Kristen and her team have been published as a DIW Berlin Wochenbericht (in German).

     

    Further information

    DIW Berlin: Geflüchtete lernen Deutsch am effektivsten in Sprachkursen

    Obermain Tagblatt: Sprachkurse sind für Geflüchtete am effektivsten

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Monstera von Pexels

  • Woman standing in front of a house with arms spread out

    The dream of home ownership

    Around 70 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 40 dream of owning their own home. But are people who have achieved this dream actually happier? Researchers at the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) answered this question with the help of data from the study “Living in Germany”.

    Based on data from more than 800 homeowners, the researchers found that owning a home did indeed lead to greater life satisfaction. However, home ownership did not make people as happy they had previously predicted. The discrepancy between predicted life satisfaction and actual life satisfaction after buying a home was especially large among “status seekers”—people who value money and success relatively highly.

     

     

    Further information

    WirschaftsWoche: Macht der Hauskauf wirklich glücklich?

    IZA Newsroom: Positiver Glückseffekt des Eigenheims wird offenbar überschätzt

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Avin Ezzati on Unsplash

  • Frau und Mann mittleren Alters füllen ein Formular aus

    Who does what to prepare for old age?

    Few can afford to invest in real estate, and there is no guarantee that government pension funds will be able to cover younger generations when they retire. A study based on data from “Living in Germany” and published by ZEIT online shows how people in Germany are providing for old age instead.

    According to the study’s findings, men are more likely to invest for retirement than women, and academics and higher earners are more likely to invest in financial assets and insurance than others.

    In addition, they ways people prepare for retirement depend on their age: Almost half of people over the age of 51 have financial investments such as stocks, savings bonds, or investment certificates, whereas younger people tend to rely on pension insurance.

    People in the former East Germany also tend more to rely on pension insurance than those in the West, with 36 percent in the East and 33 percent in the West holding pension or life insurance policies. This could be because people in the former East Germany have fewer alternatives, as they are less likely to own real estate than people in the former West.

    Further information

    Zeit Online: Wer sorgt wie fürs Alter vor?

    All results in the overview

  • Roboter mit Tablet

    Smart Machines

    When people hear the term “artificial intelligence” (AI), they often think of smart robots in a distant future. Yet many people are already using AI in their work today—but without knowing it. These are among the findings of a recent study published as a DIW Berlin Wochenbericht based on data from Living in Germany.

    According to the study, only 20 percent of those surveyed answered “yes” to the direct question of whether they had come into contact with AI at work. However, almost twice as many respondents answered “yes” to indirect questions about AI—for instance, whether they used functions such as speech recognition or automated image processing at work on a daily basis. This shows that many people are unaware that AI is already part of their everyday working lives.

    For many, the topic of AI is linked to the question of whether automation will eliminate jobs. “AI-based systems are being developed to replace some tasks that humans can do,” said DIW researcher Alexandra Fedorets, “they will take over some of the tasks, but by no means all.”

     

    Further information

    DIW Berlin: Künstliche Intelligenz ist für viele Erwerbstätige bereits Teil der alltäglichen Arbeit

    ftd.de: Viele arbeiten mit KI, ohne es zu wissen

    All results in the overview

     …

  • Woman caring for elderly gentleman with cane, she supports him and carries his shopping bag

    Low-income workers need supportive care services six years earlier

    New analyses based on data from the study Living in Germany show that people with lower incomes have a higher risk of needing supportive care and nursing services. Men at risk of poverty are likely to need care almost six years earlier than higher-earning men, while women need care around three and a half years earlier.

    Occupation also plays a role. On average, blue-collar workers need supportive care and nursing services about four years earlier than civil servants. In addition, men and women with high-stress jobs need supportive care and nursing services on average 4.7 and 2.7 years earlier, respectively.

    “In Germany, there is social inequality not just in income and life expectancy, but also in the risk of needing care,” says DIW expert Peter Haan, who worked with colleagues from the SOEP in conducting the study.

    Further information

    FAZ.net: Ärmere werden häufiger und früher pflegebedürftig

    DIW Berlin: Ärmere Menschen werden häufiger und früher pflegebedürftig als Besserverdienende

    All results in the overview

  • Woman with an apron pushes a cart with towels

    Higher Wages

    The likely future coalition partners in the German government—SPD, Greens, and FDP—want to raise the statutory minimum wage to 12 euros per hour in their first year as governing coalition. This could benefit women in particular, as well as people working in retail, catering, healthcare, and building maintenance. These findings are the result of a study by researchers from the Hans Böckler Foundation’s Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI) based on data from Living in Germany and the Federal Statistical Office.

    According to the study, 7.3 million people currently earn less than 12 euros an hour in their main job and another 1.3 million in a second job. Of these approximately 8.6 million people who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage, around two-thirds are women.

     

    Further information

    Frauen, Einzelhandel, Gastronomie: Wer besonders von der Anhebung des Mindestlohns profitieren würde

    Rund 8,6 Millionen Beschäftige verdienen aktuell weniger als 12 Euro in der Stunde – vor allem in Jobs ohne Tarifvertrag

     

    All results in the overview

  • older woman sitting at a table with a laptop

    Working in Retirement

    Some people can hardly wait to retire while others would never consider it. In fact, more and more people are continuing to work after retirement: While 3.3 percent of those over the age of 64 were still working in 2005, 7.8 percent were still working in 2019.

    But are people working in retirement due to financial need, as is commonly believed? Holger Schäfer, an economist at the German Economic Institute in Cologne, has come to a different conclusion based on an analysis of data from Living in Germany. If retirees were working because they needed the money, their pensions would have to have extremely low— but as Schäfer’s analysis shows, this is not the case.

    The results of other studies also suggest that financial motives play a subordinate role. “Previous studies have shown that people enjoy working and being in contact with others, and that this is more important to them than the extra money,” says Holger Schäfer.

    Further information

    Einkommen: Arbeitende Rentner haben überdurchschnittlich viel Geld

    Warum Rentner arbeiten gehen

    All results in the overview

    Photo Anna Shvets on Pexels

  • two women put food in bags

    Making a Difference Through Volunteer Work

    Many organizations and initiatives depend on volunteers –  from sports clubs to volunteer fire departments to refugee aid projects. According to the results of a new study based on data from Living in Germany, currently around one in three people in Germany is involved in volunteer work, and the percentage is rising. People in rural areas are especially active in volunteer activities.

     Volunteerism is higher in more prosperous regions, where the level of education is high and unemployment is low. “In structurally weak rural regions, on the other hand, efforts need to be made to catch up,” says SOEP researcher Luise Burkhardt, who conducted the study together with a colleague at the Thünen Institute. In these regions, migration and population aging as well as a lack of digital infrastructure make it difficult for people to pursue volunteer activities.

    It is striking that volunteerism is more common among men than women. he researchers suspect that the reason could be a persistence of traditional gender roles in rural areas, where women are often still more involved in childcare and housework.


    Further information

    Ehrenamtliche in sehr ländlichen Gegenden besonders engagiert – Männer aktiver als Frauen

    All results in the overview

    Ismael Paramo on Unsplash

  • Mother greets her child

    Most mothers want to work

    Mothers in Germany would like to work more than they are currently able to in many cases. This is among the key findings of a study conducted by economist Wido Geis-Thöne at the German Economic Institute (IW) based on data from “Living in Germany.”

    According to the study, one in four mothers between the ages of 25 and 54 was not currently working. But only 12 percent of these mothers said that this was what they wanted.

    Mothers with small children under the age of three have a particularly hard time pursuing their career goals: Almost 69 percent of these mothers were not employed, but only 27 percent of them said this was what they wanted.

    Why is this the case? “Mothers with children often have more limited job search options. Long commutes are impossible for them, meaning that they have a harder time finding a suitable job,” says Geis-Thöne. Or, he hypothesizes, “they want to work more hours but are only available to work at times that don’t suit the employer.”


    Further information

    Süddeutsche Zeitung: Warum viele Mütter nicht arbeiten – obwohl sie wollen

    Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft: Mütter haben unterschiedliche Erwerbswünsche und erwerbsbezogene Normen

    All results in the overview

    Sai De Silva on Unsplash

  • A Muslim woman wearing a headscarf walks past billboards for some of the party candidates in the upcoming state election in Bavaria.

    Hesitancy to form party attachments

    With just a few weeks to go before Bundestag elections, Germany’s political parties are canvassing for votes. They are also interested in gaining long-term supporters. As an analysis of data from the study “Living in Germany” shows, people with an immigrant background tend to have a weaker party identification than non-immigrants. According to the study, half of immigrants report no long-term partisan attachments, whereas this is true for just one-third of the population overall. According to the SOEP research team, one reason could lie in the fact that immigrants first have to gather experience with the different political parties before developing stronger party attachments over time.

    Among immigrants, long-term party attachment differs by country of origin. Immigrants from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union tend to identify more with the CDU/CSU, while immigrants from Southern Europe and Turkey tend to identify more with the SPD. A disproportionately large number of immigrants from Western countries (USA, Switzerland, Netherlands, France) identify with Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, and immigrants from Serbia identify more with Die Linke.


    Further information

    Spiegel: Wie Zugewanderte die Wahl mitentscheiden könnten

    DIW Berlin: Eingewanderte bauen zögerlich Bindungen an Parteien in Deutschland auf

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash

  • Mother and infant in a stretcher

    How trust influences vaccination readiness

    When social trust is high, people are more inclined to collaborate—even in crisis situations. This mechanism has been at work during the pandemic, according to results of a special survey of more than 12,000 participants in the long-term study “Living in Germany”.

    According to this special survey on life in Germany during COVID-19, trust has been high during the pandemic. In fact, social trust increased between February 2020 and June 2021. The results show how important trust has been in overcoming the pandemic: People with higher trust in others are more likely to get vaccinated against COVID-19. They are also more likely to follow COVID-19 rules such as “keep a safe distance,” “wash your hands,” and “wear a mask.”


    Further information

    DIW Berlin: Corona-Pandemie: Vertrauensvolle Menschen sind eher zur Impfung bereit und halten sich eher an AHA-Regeln

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash

  • Woman with toddler

    Parental leave increases children’s well-being over the long term

    In early May 1986, the East German government introduced a policy reform that some people are still benefiting from today. Both mothers and fathers were allowed to take twelve months of paid parental leave from the date of their child’s birth. Previously, most parents had to return to work when their children were five months old, which meant that the children were placed in daycare.

    According to a study by researchers at the ifo institute based on data from the study “Living in Germany”, the effects of the reform are evident in the children, who are now in their early to mid-thirties. the effects of the reform are evident in the children, who are now in their early to mid-thirties.

    Children who spent their first year of life exclusively in the care of their own parents are eight percentage points more satisfied today than those who were sent to daycare at the age of five months.


    Further information

    Business Insider Germany: Children whose parents spent longer on parental leave are happier as adults – long-term study shows

    ifo Dresden: Longer paid parental leave makes children happier later on

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash

  • Educator sits in hallway of a daycare center

    Overworked and undervalued

    Pre-school educators are essential, not just for families but for society as a whole, as almost everyone would agree. Nevertheless, pre-school educators still contend with difficult working conditions.

    According to a new study based on data from “Living in Germany”, 80 percent of pre-school educators feel they are underpaid. But it’s not just this feeling that creates stress: About 75 percent also report high time pressures and a heavy workload. Many also rate their chances of promotion as poor. In addition, around 70 percent complain about a lack of recognition from their superiors.

    “During the Corona pandemic, the stresses on educators have increased even further,” says DIW education expert Katharina Spieß, who conducted the study together with her colleague Ludovica Gambaro. Given that increasing numbers of parents were able to place their children in emergency daycare over the course of the pandemic, pre-school educators were responsible for approximately the same number of children during the pandemic as they were under normal conditions. Simultaneously, educators had the added burden of following hygiene regulations. The stress was compounded by worries about their own health.


    Further information

    Around 80 percent of educators think their salary is too low

    DIW Berlin: Eight out of ten nursery school teachers in Germany feel burdened by inadequate salaries

    All results in the overview

  • young men with mask

    Pandemic Job Loss Higher Among Refugees

    Immigrants often hold temporary jobs in sectors like food service and hospitality, and many had only been working for a short time when the pandemic hit. As a result, immigrants were 2.5 times more likely than other workers to lose their jobs during COVID-19. Pandemic job loss was even higher among refugees. Researchers at the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) produced these insights into the employment effects of the pandemic based on data from the study “Living in Germany.”

    One reason for the higher job loss among refugees lies in the different types of work that immigrants and non-immigrants do. Immigrants, and refugees in particular, often have jobs that cannot be done from home. According to study results, only three percent of refugees were able to work from home during the pandemic.


    Further information

    Tagesschau: “Corona hat alle Pläne vernichtet”

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Thirdman von Pexels

  • Coin Stack

    How has the pandemic affected household income?

    The income gap between high and low-income households has narrowed over the course of the pandemic. But this is not because things have improved for people on the lower end of the income distribution, as one would have hoped. Instead it is because self-employed people,  who are usually among the better-off, have suffered in the wake of measures to combat the virus. The resulting narrowing of the income gap is therefore bad news rather than good.

    “If the pandemic drags on well into this year, and if measures to contain it are tightened again, this could bring about rising bankruptcy and unemployment,” says SOEP expert Markus Grabka, who conducted the study.

    His analyses show that monthly net household incomes of the self-employed fell by an average of 16 percent, or 460 euros, during the second lockdown compared with 2019. In contrast, salaried employees and civil servants saw a 5 percent increase in household income in nominal terms. In the remaining households, there was no change in income on average.


    Further information

    DIW Berlin: Corona pandemic reduces income inequality

    SZ: Income inequality down in Corona pandemic

    All results in the overview

  • Dentist

    Job search—with obstacles

    Five years after arriving in Germany, 28 percent of female refugees and 60 percent of male refugees were employed.

    One key reason for this gap is that in many cases, refugee women worked in sectors such as education and health in their counties of origin. Qualifications earned in these sectors are often not recognized in Germany.

    Another factor are qualifications gained in Germany. Refugee women attend language and integration courses and employment counseling at a later point in time than refugee men. These courses and services play an important role in finding a job in Germany.

    The task of caring for children and being gainfully employed poses an additional challenge for refugee women who arrived in Germany in recent years.

    The researchers at IAB and BIM emphasize that tailoring policy measures to the specific needs of refugee women could help to promote their integration into the German labor market. The expansion of childcare services, for instance, could benefit them and non-refugee women as well.


    Further information

    MIGAZIN: Refugee women must overcome many obstacles for labor market integration

    IAB: Labor market integration of refugee women slower than for men

    All results in the overview

    Foto von Evelina Zhu von Pexels

  • sleeping woman with glasses

    How are people doing in the pandemic?

    Over the course of the Corona pandemic, people have become less satisfied overall. Leisure activities and family life are a source of frustration for many.
    The good news is that for many people, satisfaction in certain areas of life has increased during the pandemic. Many adults rate both their health and their sleep as significantly better than before.

    According to SOEP director Stefan Liebig, “When faced with the threat of the pandemic, you can disregard the little twinge in your back.” He also offers an explanation for the increase in satisfaction with sleep: “Working from home eliminates the need for long commutes to work.” These are just some of the results of an additional telephone survey of more than 12,000 “Living in Germany” respondents on the topic of life during the COVID-19 pandemic.


    Further information

    Berliner Zeitung: Wie geht es uns in der Pandemie?

    SOEP-CoV Spotlight: Während der Corona-Pandemie sind die Menschen zunehmend unzufrieden mit der Freizeit, aber weiterhin zufrieden mit ihrem Schlaf

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Isabella and Zsa Fischer on Unsplash

  • two women talking

    Increasing German Language Proficiency and Closer Social Relationships with Germans

    Results from a study based on data from “Living in Germany” show steady improvement in German language skills among refugees who arrived in Germany between 2013 and 2016. As of 2019, five out of 10 refugees rated their German skills as “good” to “very good”. The study was carried out by researchers Wenke Niehues, Nina Rother, and Manuel Siegert from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). Results also show that refugees are spending increasing amounts of time with Germans, especially in work and educational settings.

    However, older refugees, refugees with poorer German skills, and refugee women with small children need more time to build social relationships with Germans. They also run the risk of falling behind in the development of language skills and social contact.

    Study results also indicate that refugees’ social contact decreased again during the pandemic, and that many refugees’ language skills may have plateaued or declined.


    Further information

    BAMF: Bessere Deutschkenntnisse und mehr soziale Kontakte bei Geflüchteten

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

  • older woman (PoC) smiles and holds a cup

    Older refugees in Germany

    The large majority of refugees who have come to Germany in recent years are relatively young. Only about 12 percent of all refugees living in Germany are 45 or older. These individuals face particular challenges. Compared to younger refugees, they often find it more difficult to learn German, find a job, and make friends in Germany. These are among the findings from a study conducted by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) based on data from “Living in Germany.”

    Many older refugees are worried about their application for asylum (52%), about not being able to stay in Germany (66%), and about having to return to their country of origin (73%). They also worry about their financial situation and health.

    And yet, all in all, older refugees are approximately as satisfied with their lives as younger refugees are. The author of the study, Amrei Maddox, suspects that one reason for this is the older generation’s stronger family ties: Most older refugees live with family members.


    Further information

    BAMF: Older refugees in Germany

    BAMF: Living situations of older refugees in Germany

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz on Unsplash